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Making A Successful Link Between IT And Business
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By Dan Kraus

Technology by itself cannot work miracles. Only by aligning technology investments with business goals can SMBs hope to use IT as an effective enabler of business success.

Yet this task of aligning IT investments with business goals is easier said than done. It takes time to understand and careful planning to articulate the exact business requirements of technology. SMBs must ensure that IT investments have a detailed business review and management commitment in order to enjoy the expected benefits of IT and gain a head start on competition.

Furthermore, today SMBs havemany choices. There is a variety of solutions at different price points from which to choose. This makes it tempting to favor cost and purchase cheaper alternatives when selecting a solution for immediate relief of a business problem.

This short-term, patch work approach, that doesn't take into account how the IT investment can live through a long-term business road map of delivering to growth expectations, is that companies may actually end up spending more than what is necessary for implementation and maintenance. This patch work approach would also ultimately cost more and will not be scalable.

Such unnecessary costs can be minimized and IT investments can be maximized by ensuring IT and business goals are aligned. In order to achieve a close alignment, here are some key points CXOs of a SMB must take note of:

Top management involvement: Donít leave all IT project planning and decision making to the IT staff as they may not have as good an overview of business requirements as top management does. That is why CXOs must be very clear on what they want to do in terms of their IT strategy and be actively involved in the IT decision-making process.

They must also set aside time to take ownership of the evaluation and implementation process, as well as get key stakeholders in both the business and IT departments involved. Only by bringing the business and IT folks together can companies define realistic goals that are beneficial. This will then make it easier for the rest of the staff to accept the changes.

Focus, focus, focus: It is easy to lose sight of the business objectives of the IT project, so keep these objectives well defined, short and well communicated to all who are preparing for the implementation and will be involved in it. In addition, all parties must understand these objectives in the same manner, and they must be updated on all changes made by top management as they happen and these changes should be documented.

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Dan Kraus is the Vice President of SAP BUsiness One for SAP America.
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